Stevenson v Jack Betting: Back Badou to upset the odds yet again

Badou Jack
A winner . . . Badou Jack celebrates after stopping Nathan Cleverly
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Adonis Stevenson has held the WBC light-heavyweight title since 2013 but Ralph Ellis thinks that reign could be coming to an end in the early hours of Sunday...

"He’s the underdog again at [2.38] in the Match Odds but a fighter who seems to improve every time he gets into the ring seems to have been managed perfectly to meet the 40-year-old at exactly the right time to bring his reign to an end."

Adonis Stevenson v Badou Jack
Sunday, 03:00
Live on Sky Sports Main Event

It was my little grandson who first got me interested in Badou Jack. He heard me talking about the Swedish born but American based fighter who was about to face George Groves and asked if he was a pirate.

Little Jamie has long since moved on from fictional heroes who walked the plank and went on swashbuckling adventures on the High Seas. He's six now and watches endless hours of YouTube footage of Neymar, Ronaldo and Gareth Bale to pick up tips for tricks and flicks.

Instead it's me who has added two-weight world champion Badou to my list of stars to follow as I've quietly backed him at big odds through a series of fights that everybody else thought he'd lose.

He's the underdog again at [2.38] in the Match Odds in the early hours of Sunday morning our time when he goes to the backyard of Adonis Stevenson in Toronto to try to capture the WBC light heavyweight title the Canadian has held since 2013.

But a fighter who seems to improve every time he gets into the ring seems to have been managed perfectly to meet the 40-year-old at exactly the right time to bring his reign to an end.

Jack's fearless attitude

At first glance Stevenson's longevity as a champion looks impressive. Since beating Chad Dawson to win the title in June of 2013 he's defended it eight times, and only twice had to go the full 12 rounds to do it.

But when you look at the list of opponents during that run you start to ask questions. Yes, he has a devastating left hook when he unleashes it, but his sixth round win over Tony Bellew was the only mandatory defence among those contests. The rest of the opponents look to have been cherry picked to make sure he kept his title.

He's talking now about fighting Sergey Kovalev next, but so far has skilfully avoided all approaches to meet the Russian who has held multiple light-heavyweight titles.

He's also never gone outside Canada to defend his title, and come to that only two of his 29 fights have ever been "away" fixtures. No coincidence that one of them, when he was stopped by Darnell Boone in 2010, is one of the two defeats on his record.

Jack, meanwhile, has shown a fearless attitude. His last five fights have been against Anthony Dirrell, Groves, Lucien Bute, James DeGale and Nathan Cleverly.

He's the better boxer

At each stage he's stepped up a level, and under the guidance of Floyd Mayweather has consistently improved.

At 34 years of age, and having come late to the sport, he's reaching his prime and the speed he showed against both DeGale and Cleverly, switching from attacks to the head then body, will trouble Stevenson.

This fight is odds-on not to go the distance, but I think Jack has the skills to avoid that big left hook and the boxing prowess to keep hurting Stevenson throughout 12 rounds. Nine of his 22 wins have been on points, so he's proved he has the stamina and can take a punch or two when needed.

It still makes me smile when I remember little Jamie thinking he was a pirate. But hey, I'll go on plundering the treasure.

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